Father and son in court over hidden treasures

By Kathy Marks

Photo / ThinkStock
Photo / ThinkStock

Police raided a storage centre in Sydney this week and made a remarkable discovery: a treasure trove of cash, jewellery and antiques worth A$6.5 million ($8.5 million), allegedly stolen by a father and son targeting homes in affluent suburbs of two cities.

The pair - likened by one detective to Dad and Dave, characters in a classic Australian comedy - are suspected of breaking into more than 200 homes and properties, cracking safes and covering their tracks so carefully that some victims had no idea they had been burgled.

Christopher See, 56, and Phillip See, 33, were arrested in Sydney this month after a detective spotted them at Melbourne's airport shortly before the final crime of their alleged seven-year spree, the theft of cash and valuables from security deposit boxes in a city storage facility.

According to the Herald-Sun, the two men - who were charged with that break-in in a Melbourne court this week - were "cat burglars" who could scale high buildings.

They led quiet lives - the father lived with his aged mother while the son stayed in a cheap boarding-house - and did not associate with known criminals or splash their alleged wealth around.

The stash uncovered at the Sydney storage centre included A$4 million in cash, a large quantity of foreign currency, 120kg of silver bullion and thousands of pieces of jewellery, as well as antiques, heirlooms, precious stones, five handguns, ammunition, false identification documents and a World War I Victoria Cross.

The Acting Assistant Commissioner of NSW Police, Mal Lanyon, said the burglaries - many of them targeting homes on Sydney's leafy north shore - involved tactics so sophisticated that some victims had been unaware they had been robbed until their valuables were returned.

"They are using a method that if you were the first to walk into a room, you wouldn't realise that a break and enter had happened," he said. "We believe there may be a number of owners of both commercial and residential premises who are unaware that their safes have been tampered with ... They certainly have been prolific, the persons responsible."

Police found nearly A$40,000 of cash and valuables at the house Christopher See shared with his mother in the wealthy Sydney suburb of Bellevue Hill, the Herald Sun reported. Bellevue Hill is home to James Packer, of the publishing and gambling empire, and Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert's eldest son.

Police intercepted mobile phone conversations by the Sees during their alleged robbery of the safety deposit boxes. They allegedly bought specialist power tools enabling them to break into the strongroom.

After being arrested on December 19, the men were extradited to Victoria, where they were wanted on outstanding warrants. They have been remanded in custody until March 19.

One police source told the Herald Sun: "They don't gamble or take drugs. The dad lives with his old mother and drives a cab part-time, and the son lives in the cheapest boarding house you could find."

- NZ Herald

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